I think it is fair to say that no other anime has caused such controversy and overwhelming divide amongst anime fans after a single episode like Goblin Slayer has. The pilot almost effortlessly setting a spark across the community that would act as ignition to countless flame wars lasting for weeks on end. A scene lasting around fifteen seconds receiving more vitriol and condemnation than arguably every other anime airing this year. On the surface the divide seems clear: on one side lies those vocal to their displeasure of even the sheer existence of this series labelling it as edgy repugnant and pornographic. Some going even so far as comparing the anime to Nazi propaganda decades ago. And on the opposing side lies the fandom constantly upset by criticism their beloved show receives and reverting to insults and namecalling them with popular phrases such as the dreaded SJW for example. But these are simply gross generalisations of both the series and its viewers centring upon a small group of outspoken individuals that unfortunately leads any attempt of discourse astray. Instead my aim here is to hopefully bring a more critical view on Goblin Slayer to the discussion of the series perceived intent as well as numerous faults and issues prevalent throughout its first season. The gods of light order and fate and the gods of darkness chaos and coincidence decided to throw dice in order to determine which side would rule the world. The gods threw the dice over and over and over again until they began to feel faint. Goblin Slayer is a dark fantasy anime adapted from both the manga and light novels of the same name highly inspired by tabletop roleplaying games. Initially the story follows a young woman known as Priestess that has recently become an adventurer and joins an upstart party on her first quest. Their naivety and inexperience ultimately lead to their grim demise ravaged by goblins who commit heinous acts such as rape and dismemberment depicted in much more graphic fashion compared to other fantasy anime of recent years. Before the Priestess can be dispatched however the actual protagonist appears from the shadows intent of massacring every goblin in sight. From this point the series is predominantly focused on this mysterious adventurer commonly referred to as Goblin Slayer and his efforts to exterminate the entire goblin species. The beginning to this story gives what I believe to be a clear sense of what Goblin Slayer strives to be. Simplistic cheerful dialogue to elucidate fundamentals of the adventurer system a lighthearted tone able to create a strong optimistic mood even the visuals and audio utilizing light colours for character designs coupled with an upbeat tune all try and convey a presentation akin to the typical fantasy anime of recent memory. The group of upstart adventurers each can be seen representing archetypes one would expect to be present in such a series: tsundere loli character main character for a harem etc. Numerous times before a goblin appears on screen subtle signs are revealed about the partys lack of preparation and expectation to indicate this quest will not be as successful as they hope and then what follows is a shocking realization of what the world of Goblin Slayer truly entails. Essentially these characters were tools for the series to subvert peoples initial expectations of the story with the tragic events that entail further emphasizing this point. The sickening portrayal and detail of these actions going to further lengths than most anime fans have probably ever experienced previously in the medium. Disgusting to watch even for the short time shown and from the reception this anime received it looks to have garnered the initial reaction staff had intended. From this perspective while many can find these scenes crass and tactless in their depiction I find it difficult to call this part of Goblin Slayer lazy writing. Shortly followed by the introduction of the titular protagonist reveals a change that strongly contrast to events that just transpired earlier. Compared to the almost wilfully ignorant upstart adventurers that end up decimated to the lowest mob type in the world Goblin Slayers approach to killing goblins is much more tactical. Shown to analyse nearly every time he murders a single goblin often determining the most effective method for slaughtering the mob stepbystep before executing his strategy in cold calculated fashion. Through this he not only personifies the kind of badass main character one would expect for a darker fantasy story but also provides a solid understanding of how a highlevel adventurer would be expected to act in battle. Armed with various weapons and antidotes whilst always on the lookout for signs Goblin Slayer has enough tools at his disposal to face any goblin he would come across. A clear juxtaposition to how many inexperienced adventurers would conduct themselves. Him slaughtering the horde also raises an intriguing question of Goblin Slayers morality when intending to murder the child goblins. While the protagonist remains steadfast of his opinion on the species the Priestess brings forth the possibility of a good goblin. Despite going through with eliminating them he does admit there could be one out there. From this viewers have a grasp on how this tale could further develop this idea with having both characters ethics challenged as Goblin Slayers quest continues. There is potential in this tale to be more than just the fun schlock of the season. Unfortunately that potential slowly gets squandered every episode following and personally even loses the series initial appeal. One of the more detrimental choices I find a story can make is following an attempt to create a purposeful serious tone and then reverting to what it tried to distance itself from initially. After Goblin Slayers shocking start that firmly established the story as a dark fantasy that supposedly takes itself seriously the anime takes an odd change in tone that is rather baffling to understand. Numerous quests later in the series showcase characters in a way you would never have expected in Goblin Slayer with an array of playful trifling scenes one would more commonly associate with a sliceoflife anime than this show. Somehow the series decided to skip on possibly showing some of the effects trauma experienced from death sexual assault or even just being an adventure can have on a person instead these scenes barely contribute to the characters on a notable level. The change in tone can lead to breaks in ones immersion of the story and the protagonist it follows with transitions feeling awkward and out of place more often than not. A notorious example can be found in episode 2 where the episode cuts to a wellendowed redhead girl waking out of bed and stretching followed by some of the most prominent jiggle physics to be found this season. I thought this was meant to be a serious tale. For a dark fantasy to work usually it requires the atmosphere of a series to remain constant enough to a degree where the earnestness and consequences of actions can still be felt through the more cheerful scenes. Berserk Attack on Titan and Fullmetal Alchemist 2003 are just some examples of dark fantasy anime that constantly have a sombre air about them constantly felt when witnessing the actions of their characters. Goblin Slayer lacks this air that breezes alongside the narrative and whilst continuing to lack a strong sense of identity in a genre already spoiled by an abundance of generic fantasy it is more inclined to leave a stale taste in the mouths of those hoping for Goblin Slayer to distance itself further from its contemporaries. This lack of an identity also permeates the narrative and overarching worldbuilding to a degree that I have to address. When a series attempts to be a subversion or even a deconstruction of a genre normally this would involve acknowledging tropes typically associated with a genre whilst subverting their intentions. Goblin Slayer at least in its first season does not do this. Alongside the series constantly switching the tone between dark and nonchalant the anime seems to never want to take its world very seriously despite the premise. Goblin Slayer is a man who has an unrelenting obsession to kill goblins as they are a species that lingers on as a problem for innocent people. They are weak creature with childlike intelligence individually but as a mob are a destructive force which can lead to the devastation of entire towns. An interesting yet believable problem in this world. So then how is it believable to think that there is only one person that acts in response to this problem? Because the anime has mainly taken place around a small town there is a possibility for other adventurers similar to Goblin Slayer to be primarily hunting goblins in their own areas of the world. But thinking on a large scale if goblin mobs can and already have been a significant cause of wiping out various towns would someone not think that their effect to agriculture and the overall economy poses a severe threat on a national scale to where even adventurers seeking glory and fame would end up losing money? I would have at least expected some form of intervention here is an idea: have some adventurers hired as a form of security for farmers against a potential goblin attack. Or at least have the guild girl not allow novices to take these jobs when it is made apparent how many novices and kidnapped and killed off by goblin mobs If so many are dying because of this fact maybe it would be best to intervene even if with just a simple warning about how dangerous they are and how prevalent this is. If only Goblin Slayer had more consistency in its world that more people could admire instead of trying to subvert common fantasy anime tropes and then as if almost contradictory to itself maintaining a level of unbelievability behind how these aspects work in its story. It is upsetting how a show essentially fails at fleshing out the more complex issues the world of Goblin Slayer encompasses especially when most of the defence for this anime in regards to certain actions and events is derived from insular logic. A common complaint for the series initially was based around why goblins rape and while it certainly is specified that rape is their only option for reproduction that does not cover details about their creation. Goblins here are forceofnature villains that embody evil and chaos thus not requiring distinct personalities and from this the rape shown can be considered a further way of emphasizing that point thus bringing them to where they can be considered irredeemable but this only works on a narrative level. All works of fiction are made with intentions from their creator/s and by peeling down the layers of inuniverse context is one able to search for the purpose and intentions behind specific scenes actions etc. Often termed the Thermian Argument it claims that pointing to a shows logic in response to criticism of the subject matter is inherently fallacious. It supports a difference between what is being depicted and why such is being depicted at all a metanarrative point of view. I stated what I believed to be the main intention behind such shocking acts in the first episode as a way for the show to subvert the audience for what kind of anime they were in store for but after witnessing the series make that idea almost completely irrelevant through poor direction tonal dissonance and having such actions repeated onscreen later with similarly crude framing for reasons even I am unsure of it is hard to defend the series for all these creative choices happening numerous times throughout the animes duration from a metanarrative point of view. Characterization is one of Goblin Slayers focal points if even only applying to one individual so far. Goblin Slayer is the embodiment of a man who refuses to die before his purpose in life is seen through to the end. Driven by revenge after goblins took away the person most precious to him he epitomizes the idea of how a badass protagonist should act. His character design is also impressive in certain scenes with a red eye theme glowing in the darkness that oozes a killer instinct rarely found in anime nowadays. Reminder that the inuniverse creation of the series was founded on gods rolling dice and playing the game of chance with all various races and species being birthed purely for their amusement. But with the way Goblin Slayer acts he can be considered the one character in this world to defy the will and wishes of those who created him. And while there are numerous examples of him conveniently surviving so far due to plot armour the intent remains underneath his monotonous voice and implied social awkwardness lies the potential for a metaphorical figure of inspiration. Unfortunately that is where most of the praise for characters ends at this point in the anime. Every character besides Goblin Slayer receives little attention in the anime with minimal development bar the Priestess who acts as a rookie slowly growing and learning how to survive as an adventurer in this harsh world however even this has made little progress this first season. Other characters sprinkled across the story range from other rookies slowly improving and gaining experience to dependable fighters often able to hold their own in battle which is a striking difference compared to how most typically act away from any battlefield childish and immature. Honestly besides Priestess and Goblin Slayer the rest of the cast are easily expendable but I guess that is to be expected when the supporting cast includes names such as Dwarf and Lizardman. Hopefully if there is a sequel they have a better opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the anime. Much like these forgettable characters the production quality for Goblin Slayer also failed to leave a strong impact. The art is not very detailed with most character designs and backgrounds often appearing plain and generic for most of the season. A mixture of 2D and 3D animation is used to jarring effect with most action scenes and the occasional panning shot relying on CGI that look more like an eyesore that anything visually pleasing. In fact most of the betterlooking shots involve scenes lacking any sort of movement. Disappointing as the artwork is commonly seen as a key strength to the mangas popularity. For a series where the most basic appeal comes from a guy mowing down goblins the action was underwhelming and that kills a show like this. Wish I could say otherwise for the soundtrack but that also failed to leave a strong impression on me. Voice acting was solid but effectively crippled with a lacklustre script treating half the characters as dense. The opening theme was melancholic but failed to ever have me personally want to listen to it more than once. The ending theme while I certainly enjoyed it more was accompanied by CGI Goblin Slayer with clunky animation. At least the ending track was fun. Goblin Slayer is at its core an anime about one man slaying goblins. Though it can tempt viewers with ideas of something greater at work it still boils down to a mere schlocky action show with lacklustre presentation that by the end of its first season has its biggest strengths stemming from potential and a hope that a sequel can further flesh out characters and worldbuilding which at this point cannot hold up to scrutiny. But it does have its appealing qualities no matter how superficial they might be. If you are willing to take a chance on a simple action anime trying to break the trend of generic fantasy released this year this might be worth your investment. My main hope is that now with the most controversial anime of the year finished the community at large can learn from this experience. As the old saying goes: That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
30 /100
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